Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1998/08/23

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Subject: RE: [Leica] lens evaluations
From: Alan Ball <>
Date: Sun, 23 Aug 1998 15:17:26 +0200


Thanks again for your minutiously gathered data. I am totally of your 
opinion regarding the non-relevence of general statements on the optical 
performances of lenses covering whole ranges from any manufacturer.

It is a pity you started the post by arguing with statements by Jim 
Williams reproduced by others in the present discussion list, seemingly 
without his knowledge (or I missed something somewhere). These statements 
were made under other circumstances, on his Web site and/or within other 
threads in other groups, and seemingly with other priorities than optical 
benchmarks in mind. I find it quite unfair that these quotes have been 
passed on to us the way they were. I personally regard Jim Williams as one 
of the most honest and documented Internet contributors in the 35mm RF 
field, and his contributions on Usenet or on his Web site, as well as his 
availability to help out users on very concrete real-life issues, have been 
very precious to me, and I believe to many others. Just like your 
contributions, Erwin, in your own fields of interest, which have led to all 
my M lenses buying decisions (financially, I do not know if I ought to 
thank you or blame you for that though....).

To go back to the point you make on brand generalisations, and with which I 
agree through my own fragmental and empiric experience, I must add that it 
seems unfortunately a temptation for some of the most vocal Leica fans on 
the Net to issue such general statements, imposing on the reader the point 
of view that the red dot brand hardly ever produces anything less than 
perfection, in particular in the optical field. There really is a tendency 
to show symptoms of 'fixed beliefs in Leica superiority', to the point of 
agressively deriding anyone questionning such a belief. I understand very 
well this could get on the nerves of less biased users, and it certainly 
gets on mine. Though it does not prevent me from also understanding the 
temptation of excessive brand loyalty in a field where many people spend 
much more than a reasonable portion of their disposable income.

So, I'll stop here by thanking you again for bringing in some sanity, facts 
and figures to an over-heated debate: you just made me like my 50mm 
Summicron-M a little more....

Friendly regards

PS  A pity you have not had the opportunity to put the G line of lenses 
through the same motions as the M line. Hard facts are really lacking in 
that field...

PPS  Have you ever explained, Erwin, your position regarding the notion of 
'bokeh' ? And if so could you pleae be kind enough as to repost to me 
privately your own analysis of that notion ? Thanks beforehand.

On Sunday, August 23, 1998 10:17 AM, Erwin Puts [] 
> Recently a long quote by Jim Williams (Contax G fame) hs been circulated 
> the LUG. I at first resisted temptation to react. Still some comment is
> appropriate I assume. First of all his text is full of statements, not a
> single one prooved or explained. He is also demagogially clever ("superb"
> Zeiss lenses versus "computer designed" Summicrons). It is however not my
> goal to refute Mr Williams. He seems convinced of his opinion and so be 
> At stake is the reputation of Leica or its "reputational myth-making". 
> the large group of Leica users who "because of their own fixed
> beliefs in Leica superiority -- certainly weren't about to disabuse the
> masses of their illusions".
> So are leica lenses superb or just front runners or me-too products. Were
> leica lenses unsurpassed in the past or not?
> ....<CUT>......(the whole 50mm tests)....
> If we now would try to compare lenses from several reputable companies 
> long ranges of lenses and over several decades with different and often
> non-reproducable test paramaters from many different persons who also
> change their evaluation criteria (or even more worse did not change their
> criteria) we would be insane. At least I would be insane.